Lori Henriksen

author of The Winter Loon






During the 1930s, Women made great gains in politics and government. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal represented a time of questioning and economic readjustment.

As New Deal Programs were implemented, women were appointed to high administrative positions. These women appointees worked on behalf of less fortunate women hurt by the Depression. Many positions were firsts for women: Cabinet member, Director of the Mint, Ambassador, and Judge to the Court of Appeals. These appointments reflected favorably on women active in public life.

Three women, Eleanor Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor, and Molly Dewson, a politician and social reformer, were the main instigators of progress for women in politics during the era of the New Deal.




Frances Perkins

Molly Dewson was a well educated feminist politician who worked hard at social reform for women. Before coming to work for the New Deal, she promoted The Women’s Suffrage Movement, minimum wage reform and limited work hours. She was a confidant of Mrs. Roosevelt and an advisor to Frances Perkins and friend of both. She developed the Reporter Plan, an effort to involve women in understanding the New Deal.

Due to heart problems, she retired in 1936. She lived out her years until her death in 1962 on a dairy farm with her life partner, Mary G. Porter.

A novel, Beyond The Pale by Elana Dykewomon, set in the early 20th century is about the immigrant experience and the New York suffrage movement so dear to Molly Dewson.  It is a story of the courage of two young women born in a Russian-Jewish settlement who end up working in the New York garment factories. It is a story of love and devotion.  I recommend it not only as a powerful story, but also an education on the issues faced by women that moved the politically-minded women of the 1930s to work hard for social change. It’s available on Amazon.



Outlaw Women



Outlaw women have been romanticized in print and film. The desperate times of the 1930s had a fair share of women gangsters. This is just a partial list of the women who became famous from a life of crime.

Bonnie Parker ~ Probably the most famous female villain. She’s been portrayed in movies: 1958 The Bonnie Parker Story, 1992TV movie Bonnie and Clyde-A True Story, 2013 TV mini-series Bonnie and Clyde. Faye Dunaway played Bonnie in the Oscar-winning Bonnie and Clyde in 1967.

Helen Gillis ~ Married to Lester “Baby Face Nelson” Gillis. In her 20s, the mother of two babies, she was on the Public Enemy Shoot to Kill list because of her close affiliation with her husband’s murder and mayhem. She surrendered to a the FBI after Gillis’ death and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

Pearl Elliott ~ A notorious madam connected to John Dillinger and his mentor, Harry Peipont who was executed in 1934. Pearl was also on the Shoot to Kill list, but died of natural causes at age 47.

Marie Baker ~ Called the Pretty Pants Bandit. After committing a robbery, she would demand the shop clerks to take off their pants. She always carried two guns. She served three years in prison as Mrs. Rose Durante and then disappeared.

Virginia Hills ~ Bugsy Siegel’s girlfriend nicknamed The Flamingo after his Las Vegas Casino. She was portrayed by Annette Bening in the movie Bugsy and is the subject of Bugsy’s Baby: The Secret Life of Mob Queen Virginia Hill, a book by Andy Edmonds.

Evelyn Flechette ~ Nicknamed Billie, she was John Dillinger’s girlfriend and accompanied him on a cross-country crime spree. Some say she was more of a housewife, caring for his needs, than an accomplice in crime. She did, however, survive several shootouts and spent two years in prison. She sold her stories to the magazine, True Confessions and True Romance, and the Chicago Herald Examiner newspaper. Upon her release, she went on a lecture tour Crime Doesn’t Pay.

Bonnie Parker.jpegHelen GillisPearl ElliottMarie BakerVirginia HillEvelyn Frechette.jpeg

Bonnie Parker, Helen Gillis, Pearl Elliott, Marie Baker, Virginia Hills, and Evelyn Flechette.

For more fugitives, outcasts, robbers and bandits, check out Outlaw Women, Notorious Daughters, Wives and Mothers by Robert Barr Smith. Available on Amazon.


This gallery contains 22 photos




 Movies were not just cheap entertainment. Movies influenced women’s place in society and perceptions of themselves and others.

Movies of the 1930s can be divided into the before and after of the Production Code of 1934. Until the Production Code went into effect between 1933 and 1934, Censorship was lax with few strict regulations on sex, vice, violence and morals.

Looking back to movies produced before the Code, feminist movie critic, Molly Haskell observes, “Women were conceived of as having sexual desire without being freaks or villains . . . Women were entitled to initiate sexual encounters, to pursue men, even to embody certain ‘male’ characteristics without being stigmatized as ‘unfeminine’ or predatory.”

Marlene Dietrich in Morocco, Blonde Venus and She Done Him Wrong. Miriam Hopkins in Design for Living, Greta Garbo in Susan Lenox, Her Rise and Fall, and Queen Christina portray some of the pre-code, liberated heroines. Mae West played characters in She Done Him Wrong and I’m No Angel who openly exploited men for her own pleasure.

The Production Code of 1934 changed the landscape of movies. No more passionate embraces or Mae West steamy sexuality. No exposure of sex organs (the chimp in Tarzan wore a body stocking). No revealing clothing. Twin beds even for married couples. Crime punished. Traditional roles and marriage sacred.

After the Production Code, there were films of young working women making it on their own terns who seemed to gladly give in when the right man came along. Ginger Rogers starred in Gold Diggers. She also starred with Katharine Hepburn, Andrea Leeds and Lucille Ball in Stage Door where men make only token appearances.

And movies with comic relief were popular. Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night. Katharine Hepburn in Bringing up Baby and Holiday. Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday. Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth. In these and other comedies, women were somewhat wacky, but with brains of their own.

There were many strong women played by Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and other talented actresses throughout the 1930s. The moral code clamped down and attempted to conceal what simmered under the surface, but could not stop Hollywood from expressing human nature. The Code was in effect for thirty years.


Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West and Ginger Rogers.

Thanks for stopping by.








Lesbians 1930s


No surprise. Not much to report from the 1930s on women with emotional and sexual attraction to other women.

The “liberated” young college women of the 1930s wore makeup. Some drank alcohol in mixed company. Smoking was no longer disgraceful and now considered sexy. Many young women went to college to husband hunt with education as a secondary goal.

Changes in sexual mores had been underway since the 1920s. By the 1930s on college campuses a dramatic change in attitude had occurred. A 1938 study of over one thousand college students uncovered new standards of permissible behavior—premarital sex with a fiancé and a clear commitment to marriage, justified the intimacy. The shift in attitudes did nothing help lesbians. The word wasn’t even widely used until much later.

Lesbians have been ignored, persecuted and labeled as deviant. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that limited acceptance was gained in the U.S. Then in 1997, Ellen DeGeneres came out on national television. Almost twenty years ago, but still lots of relevance.


And here is a link to a list of books BuzzFeed:



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Kindred Spirits


Kindred Spirit ~ like minded, in harmony, compatible, soul mate

A kindred spirit is someone, a missing piece, who fits perfectly into the puzzle of our lives. A kindred spirit is someone we did not know was missing. A kindred spirit is someone we connect with before we know why or who they really are. It is a connection of energy, a positive connection that makes us feel good to be around them because we resonate on the same frequency.

In The Winter Loon, Ruth meets four kindred spirits.

Ruth is a loner who from the age of six prefers to spend time with her first kindred spirit, her horse, rather than make friends at school. Her Uncle Edward gave her the foal from his favorite mare. Ruth watched and assisted at the birth. When the foal stood for the first time she did a little dance and her coat was smooth as satin. Ruth named her Satin Dancer.


When Ruth is thirteen, a boy named Duke is assigned to sit next to her on his first day at her school. He is tall and skinny and draws magnificent, fierce looking horses instead of taking notes. It turns out he is afraid of horses. As they mature, they become sweethearts


On the train heading for her first rodeo, Ruth meets Rollie, a seasoned cowgirl who rides every year on the same rodeo circuit. Rollie is probably in her forties to Ruth’s eighteen years. She sees something in Ruth right away that moves her to take Ruth under her wing.

                I introduced myself and said, “This is my first rodeo.”

               “I thought so. Welcome.” She reached out to shake my hand.

               “How can you tell?”

               “Sometimes you know things.” The leathery skin around her eyes crinkled when

               she smiled. ~From Chapter One of The Winter Loon

Together with Rollie, Ruth learns not only about rodeo culture, but also about life and herself.


Ruth returns home from the rodeo less confident of where she belongs than before she left home. Her family and society expect her to marry Duke. After enrolling at the University of Minnesota and joining a sorority, she meets Gisela. Ruth sees Gisela for the first time through a window in the university library.

. . . A movement on the grass caught my attention. A woman appeared out of nowhere. With a long stride, she ascended the library steps two at a time, seeming to float toward the entrance.~from Chapter Ten of The Winter Loon

Both women are attracted to one another before they speak.




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If all the stars  and kindred spirits in my universe align, The Winter Loon will be available in June 2016 on Amazon.

Thanks for stopping by.






Just for Fun


The Depression years were grim, but people still found ways to have fun.

Radio provided free entertainment in the home. The sound effects stimulated imaginations and listening was like being there. The child in the behind the scenes look at sound effects in the radio sees the action he is hearing as he listens to a Western broadcast. Check out the video:



Radio provided something for everyone ~ Comedy, Drama, Mystery, SciFi, Westerns, Detective stories and News programs.

Eleanor Roosevelt addressed the nation before the President did  on her weekly radio show, December 7, 1941. She spoke to the nation and specifically to the women  ~ women who had been inspired by her throughout the 1930s.


Movies allowed a glimpse into other worlds.

Gone with Wind Wizard of OzKing Kong.jpg

The glamorous stars ~ Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall, Greta Garbo, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, Humphry Bogart, Clark Gable to just name a few ~ for a short time could erase the reality of lost jobs, drudgery and childcare.

Theatre giveaways lured women out of the home to the movies. Ladies night featured lower rates for women. There was Dish Night when, with frequent trips to the movie theatre, a woman could accumulate complete sets  of dishes and glassware. Check your attic. Depression glass is valuable today.


There were raffles for appliances and even automobiles to make going to the movies a fun adventure.




Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Shirley Temple

Have some fun today and thanks for stopping by.


Inspiring Women


Inspiring ~ Encouraging, Heartening, Stimulating, Influential

Today I’m listing a few of the outstanding women of the 1930s. It was a time of hardship, but also a time when women made strides toward changing their place in the world. They are listed in no particular order or importance and many more could be added to this list.

Amelia Earhart ~ 1932 is the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Jane Addams ~ 1931 is the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the poor in Chicago.

Karen Horney ~ 1939 published New Ways in Psychoanalysis, challenging Freudian conceptions of female psychology.

Margaret Mitchell ~ 1936 published Gone With the Wind and gave us Scarlett O’Hara one of the first complex female protagonists written from the perspective of a woman. Scarlett O’Hara dramatizes gender roles and expectations for women, and along with the rest of the characters in the book, continues to intrigue readers today.

Marian Andersen ~ 1932 was denied the right to sing at Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. because of her race. Instead she sang for 75,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial and went on to be the first black singer at the Metropolitan Opera.

Pearl S. Buck ~ 1935 won the Pulitzer Prize for The Good Earth and in 1938 became the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. She published over seventy books before her death in 1975.

Dorothea Lange ~ documented the hardships of The Great Depression with her camera. She captured the suffering and injustice of the era along with the dignity of the folks she photographed. She took one of the most famous photos of the era.


Photo: Dorothea Lange

Mary McLeod Bethune ~ 1935 along with other prominent black women leaders formed the National Council of Negro Women with the philosophy, “We are seeking to make togetherness more effective.”

Frances Perkins ~ 1933 appointed Secretary of Labor by FDR, becoming the first woman Cabinet member.

Hattie Wyatt Caraway ~ 1932 the first woman elected to the U. S. Senate.


Keller 2

If you have anyone to add to the list, please let me know. As always, thanks for stopping by.





Hoovervilles ~ Shantytowns that housed destitute and unemployed during the Depression.

Built primarily on the outskirts of major cities, shantytowns were constructed by the unemployed who lived in the shacks made of found materials. Cardboard, old boards, tin, canvas—any thing would do. President Herbert Hoover was blamed for the shantytowns named for him.

Hoovervilles popped up all over the country from Seattle to New York. The shantytowns covered acres of public land.




Portland OR.jpg

Portland, Oregon

Residents begged for food. Sometimes the occupants were forced to move on, but mostly were tolerated.


Central Park

Women and children made up a good share of the population of Hoovervilles.




Times were tough for the very poorest women. In Hoovervilles one imagines that there was at least some mutual support, camaraderie and sharing. Some women chose to hit the road as hobos called, “sisters of the road,” by the men.